An approach combining morphological profiling and flow cytometric analysis was used to assess genetic stability during the several steps of somatic embryogenesis in Pinus pinaster. Embryogenic cell lines of P. pinaster were established from immature zygotic embryos excised from seeds obtained from open-pollinated trees. During the maturation stage, phenotype of somatic embryos was characterized as being either normal or abnormal. Based upon the prevalent morphological traits, different types of abnormal embryos underwent further classification and quantification. Nuclear DNA content of maritime pine using the zygotic embryos was estimated to be 57.04 pg/2C, using propidium iodide flow cytometry. According to the same methodology, no significant differences (P <= 0.01) in DNA ploidy were detected among the most frequently observed abnormal phenotypes, embryogenic cell lines, zygotic and normal somatic embryos, and somatic embryogenesis-derived plantlets. Although the differences in DNA ploidy level do not exclude the occurrence of a low level of aneuploidy, the results obtained point to the absence of major changes in ploidy level during the somatic embryogenesis process of this economically important species. Therefore, our primary goal of true-to-typeness was assured at this level.